May 2009

My job rocks

TVA employees are on the job 24/7, keeping the lights on, running the river system, managing TVA lands and supporting TVA’s operations. In this column, you’ll hear from TVA employees who can say, “My job rocks!”

Tracy A. Flippo

Vice President, Transmission Operations & Maintenance

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“ I’m tremendously proud of the crews, how they responded, worked safely and got the customers’ delivery points restored. We didn’t have one safety injury. Zero. That’s quite an accomplishment.”                         —Tracy A. Flippo

Tracy Flippo, 51, was promoted from general manager to vice president in Transmission Operations & Maintenance in April. He’s in charge of field operations for power delivery. The transmission system includes 15,900 miles of transmission line and more than 100,000 structures. When tornadoes, high winds, hurricanes or ice storms hit, those lines and structures can get damaged.

“I’ve seen them pulled out of the ground, bent over, twisted, every thing you can imagine,” says Flippo.

He has worked in TOM since 1998, when he moved over after 10 years in TVA Nuclear. Flippo had previously worked as a Nuclear Regulatory Commission resident inspector at Waterford 3 plant near New Orleans, a job he got right after graduating from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga in 1981 with a degree in chemical engineering.

TOM has about 520 employees — 500 of them in the field spread out among 18 transmission service centers. “They’re very dedicated 24/7,” says Flippo. “When you call ’em, they’re there. They’re very customer-oriented. They know their mission clearly, which is to get the lights back on quickly and safely.”

In weather emergencies, TOM calls on the construction field forces, sometimes a couple of hundred at a time, to help repair or reconstruct the damaged structures. “They work for Electric System Projects,” says Flippo. “And they do a fantastic job.”

January’s ice storm put crews in the field for a period of weeks. “It was the biggest outage I’d ever been involved in, with 50 lines and 22 delivery points out of service,” says Flippo. “I’m tremendously proud of the crews, how they responded, worked safely and got the customers’ delivery points restored. We didn’t have one safety injury. Zero. That’s quite an accomplishment.

“Last month we had three tornadoes. The week of April 3, one damaged the BF-Union 500-kV line on the Tombigbee River. The next week, one hit the Scottsboro-Huntsville area on top of Sand Mountain, Ala., and knocked out five of our big towers and a 500-kV line, and another hit Murfreesboro. Most of the damage in Murfreesboro was to the community and the local distributor and not so much to our lines. The TVA line was returned to service the next day.

“For the big lines, we were able to route the power a different way, so the longest anyone’s power was out was four hours. In most cases, it was more like an hour. The five big towers returned to service April 22.”

Flippo loves playing golf and boating. His wife, Sherri, is the administrative assistant for Roger Carpenter, the Southeast Customer Service general manager. The Flippos have three grown daughters. Two live in Chattanooga. One is in medical school on Antigua.

What does he like most about his job? “I love dealing with people, especially people that are dedicated and focused about doing their jobs and have great attitudes about their work,” says Flippo. “All the TOM employees display these characteristics, and that’s what makes it fun to come to work every day.”